Top 10 CDs of 2012

Untitled 10. The Renfields: All the Stuff and GORE

Not only do fans of Team Transylvania’s horror movie-inspired pogo-punk stylings get pretty much every song recorded in this two-disc box set spectacular, there’s enough unreleased material to get this in the top 10.

Songs like “Renfields Go!” “Transylvania Fight Song,” “Ramones Zombie Massacre,” and “Porkchop” will be new favorites. If you’ve lost a copy of The Night THEY Came Home, Bastard Sons of Ed Wood, or the Stalk and Slash Splatterama series, that’s all here.

So, if you’re looking for that special something for that hard-to-buy-for Renfields fan this holiday season, All the Stuff and GORE makes the perfect stocking stuffer. The Renfields may be number ten on this list, but they’re number one in our heart.

Untitled 9. Sly Roosevelt: Animal Tracks

If you fell asleep eating animal crackers watching Matt Taibbi on Bill Moyers, half reading a book on Teddy Roosevelt, and dreamt of a high energy post punk concept record, Animal Tracks may be that record.

The full-length debut from this Huntington-based indie rock outfit may not be some linear journey concept record, but the songs, (e.g. “Lion,” “Wolf,”) lyrics and CD art (awesomely done by Jarrod Schneider) all tie Animal Tracks into a really good record with a vision.

Untitled 8. GoodWolf: Shitty Kids

Sleepwalker singer-guitarist Tyler Grady steps out to record more stuff on this largely solo, mostly melancholy, eight-song post-grunge release.

“Last Year” was the feel good, slacker hit of the summer. “Bikini Girl” and the highly charged, intensely personal middle finger to an ex, “Letter,” stand out. Not sure who the kids are, but whatever the motivation it’s promising to see Grady operating as GoodWolf.

Goodwolf – Last Year from Geoff Hoskinson on Vimeo.

Untitled 7. John Lancaster: Crash Test in Progress

Following up on 2010’s Phantom Moon, Lancaster continues charting new sonic territory, this time with his live band. “Saigon Moment” channels Lancaster’s inner Dave Grohl. His soulful vocals on the bluesy parts of “Like Castles” actually sound like Huntington’s own Bud Carroll, the song standing out among his solo material for taking this kind of direction.

Most of the material, though, like “The Riot Act,” and “Catacomb Satellite” tie back into or at least jump off from what’s heard on the solo debut, making the six songs found on Crash Test In Progress feel like some sort of expansion pack for the CD. Great material, even for a seasoned, polished hard rock work in progress.

Untitled6. Bud Carroll: At Least I Can Still Smoke In My Car

While you’d be right to imagine the guitar hero and multi-instrumental talent Carroll could knock out a few crunchy grooves in his Trackside Studios in a few hours, this release finds him standing astride his bluesy Southern Souls days (“I’m No Stranger”) now into AC30, still singing soulful songs about his nowhere towns and lost loves.

Standout songs include “There Someday,” “I Just Wanted You To Know,” and “We’ll Be Together Again.” Carroll released this (not surprisingly) stellar 12-song effort in January, and it’s stood out since.

Untitled 5. Bishops (self-titled)

Would you believe that if Demon Beat bassist Tucker Riggleman recruited cohort Adam Meisterhans to shred in his nascent garage rock band with Paul Cogle (Nagato/Vox Populi) that the result would be killer?

Riggleman’s own singing and songwriting efforts pre-date his involvement in The Demon Beat and Prison Book Club, and hearing songs like the opener, “My Own Way,” “Happy,” and “Shit Happens” will likely excite fans of both groups.

How many Demon Beat side projects can there be? Never enough! Talented dudes, each, and it’s Riggleman’s chance to stand out here.

Untitled 4. Spirit Night: One Man Houses

Shepherdstown native Dylan Balliett releases a killer, amped-up sophomore full-length and promptly gets dropped off in NYC by The Demon Beat dudes and sets up residence. Maybe he moved up there, then released it right after. Whatever.

Following up on 2010’s What We Will Be and the Normal EP, Balliett, again joined by drummer Pete Wilmoth (FOX Japan) and Ryan Hizer (Librarians/Good Sport) on bass mostly shed their dreamy lo-fi atmospherics for something approaching high energy 80’s post punk on this nine-song effort.

“Goodbye Jones” and “Summer Clothes” are standout tracks, but it’s Balliett’s version of “Rubberneck” that might take WVRockscene best song of 2012, if there were such an ill-conceived thing. Hopefully there’s more Spirit Night to come out of NYC in 2013.

Untitled 3. The Tom McGees: This Just In

You’ll be fallin’ out, spinning and kicking, and raising your fists to the high-energy, hilarious, totally NSFW ska stylings of this Charleston-based eight-piece “punk party” band.

You’ll come for the driving punk rock, the alternately blaring and swooning horn section, and machine gun snare rolls. You’ll stay for the endearing, jilted love songs Mike Withrow and Adam Dittebrand are singing. Never has cussing out your ex-girlfriend, or, then, telling her you really love her, seemed so fun. Hear “The Choice” and “Half That Bad” for that. Just a killer nine-song debut from these characters.

Untitled 2. Juna: Sing

Like the mountains that surround us, John Morgan’s Appalachian folk symphony manifested as Juna seems at once imposing, maybe these days, cold, but unfolds itself to reveal a warm, stunning, sonic beauty.

That he’s able to create and record the richly arranged songs like “Even” and “Banner” all by himself, makes this 10-song effort all the more impressive.

Fans may expect this kind of sound as Morgan follows up on last year’s release, Hunt. It’s so much more, though, as Morgan provides a snapshot into his own life, the forces that pull, and the ties that bind him, and some of us, here in West Virginia.

Untitled 1. The Demon Beat: Less Is Less

Like the cover itself, with Adam Meisterhans, Tucker Riggleman and Jordan Hudkins blended together to form one super-rocker, everything just seems to come together on this, the fourth full-length studio effort from these Shepherdstown-based dudes. Ironically, maybe, given the title of the record, fans of the band could be said to receive more than they expected, even out of these guys.

The amalgamated rocker on the cover sports a flannel maybe as a nod to the fat, fuzzy, feedback-flecked grunge, almost stoner rock sound found on songs like “Bummer Machine,” “Fingers,” and “Bored Forever.” “Teenage Wasteland” and “Wunderwal” rock hard. “Song 2 Part 2” and “I Melted” are more melodic, some might say pretty, rock songs.

Space jams “Off The Wall” and “The Wall” close out the record impressively and more experimentally, as these guys are wont to do. Like the diamonds they sometimes adorn their album art with or get tattooed on their arms, the material on Less Is Less, instead of some huge departure from their previous material, just shines a little differently, reflecting a slightly different angle.


"Skabout" -- The Tom McGees Fight For Their Right to Move Forward in 2013

Photo: Greg McGowan

The Tom McGees (L-R: Bill Hairston, Chris Woodall, Ross Anderson, Michael Withrow, David Scarpelli, Adam Dittebrand, Bob Chapman, John Skaggs, Christopher Itson) get into the Christmas spirit by giving away a few of their favorite covers, and look forward to recording and touring in the new year with bigger guitars, and less tom.

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

Nobody is breaking any news by stating that ska, specifically, and punk rock in general, is, for some, kind of fun to listen to. And if you asked the guys in The Tom McGees, they’d probably tell you 2012 was equal parts hard work and fun. Maybe more fun.

The Charleston ska band, formed in 2011, hugely influenced by their friends and progenitors in 69 Fingers, released its debut full-length, This Just In, this summer, and enjoyed a show-per-day, two-week tour of the southeast U.S. in October.

The Tom McGees perform at the V Club Friday with Farnsworth and Mad Anthony, and will play The Empty Glass’ Christmas night party with their friends in Dinosaur Burps.

A few members of the eight-piece unit gathered at the McGees’ rehearsal spot down the hall from Charleston’s Cerberus Studios to talk about 2012 and their resolution to rock harder, with a bigger sound, and a smaller name, in 2013.

Born out of the nucleus of longtime friends, singer-guitarist Michael Withrow, and singer Adam Dittebrand, Dittebrand said his collaboration with Withrow is years in the making and almost a likely outgrowth from 69 Fingers.

“I remember Mike -- I was in high school when Mike was in junior high -- he would come to all the 69 Fingers shows, know all the words, and be right up front,” Dittebrand recalled. “We always talked about playing music together, even back then.”

“We’ve known each other since we were little,” Withrow added, casually patrolling the room with Banks, his six-month old chocolate lab and honorary McGee. “Adam, [drummer] Ross [Anderson] and I went to elementary school together.” Each of them at one point were in 69 Fingers.

“And eventually [Withrow] ended up a member of 69 Fingers, too,” Dittebrand said, continuing. “But I hadn’t played music for a long time, and we started playing acoustic shows together, just playing some of the old stuff, and covers we know.

“It was so much fun, we were like ‘Well, we know more people that play music, let’s form a real band.’ And we took some of those songs we’d written and turned them into the ska songs we play now.”

Anderson, who helped his cousin Withrow found the Charleston punk band The Concept, said the McGees are all about fun, friends and rocking out.

“It’s really good, it just works out,” the drummer said. “We have a ton of chemistry, and we all get along really well. It’s like you’re not just playing music with anybody, you’re playing music with your best friends.”

The band’s tour of the southeast back in October was super fun, they said, giving the guys a chance to frolic on the beach and make new fans.

“We played in Brunswick, Georgia, just above Jacksonville, and we’d never played there. There were a ton of people there to see us,” Withrow said. “They had us come back like a month later, and there were a bunch of people there. It’s cool when so many people in other places are that excited to see you.”

“It’s cool to see the reactions, too, from the new fans,” Dittebrand said. “And these are people who never heard your music, or are hearing it for the first time.”

Dittebrand described one instance of the McGees getting love down south.

“When we went back to Brunswick, one of the places we played on the tour, they had us come back and they put us up in a condo, and we were able to take our girlfriends and wives with us. It was awesome; we had a nice big suite.”

“It’s neat to go back to some of these places,” recently recruited bassist Bob Chapman said. “There’s almost like an extended family in some of these places where they look forward to seeing you.”

Withrow said the band made money, sold a lot of merch and saw some sights. Some sights were hilarious, like the drunk guy open mic fail in Marietta, Georgia, some were less funny.

“We played a show in Charlotte, just a huge crowd; a big punk rock show,” Withrow said. “After it was over, there was this huge riot, and this fight in the parking lot where we were loading up.”

“It was kind of like Juggalos, if you’ve ever seen them,” new trombone guy John Skaggs added, describing those involved.

“Yeah, it was crazy,” Withrow added as if in awe of the sight. “Some girl got knocked out by a dude. But every show was great. I would say out of all the tours I’ve done, it was the best structured, we had the best responses, the best shows, we met all kinds of people and had a blast.”

For the holidays, keeping in their tradition of having fun playing covers, the McGees are releasing a few of their favorites, “Walking on Sunshine” and “Country Roads,” as a gift to their fans.

“We played ‘Walking On Sunshine’ a long time ago in 69 Fingers,” Anderson said with a smile. “And we played ‘Country Roads’ in The Concept,” Withrow added, “but we took it and re-wrote it, and made it our version.”

The band has been writing a new EP and will record that soon. Withrow described the direction the band hopes to take with the new material.

“A lot of the new stuff that I’m writing, we want to use two guitarists, to thicken everything up, so I can do a lot of lead work and just make the songs a little better,” he said. “We’re going to try to be going for a different sound.”

With plans to record with friend Greg McGowan of Charleston’s Time & Distance, Withrow said as the band moves forward he and the other guys are taking the McGees a little more seriously than at first. 

“We actually have been approaching it way more seriously. Now, this is what we do,” he said with an almost defiant emphasis. Effective January 1, they’ll just be The McGees, dropping any reference to any specific, maybe awesome, former television news anchor.

For Dittebrand, sharing the fun of their music with friends, fans, and family members young and old, is what it’s all about for him.

“My wife is super supportive of me, and my efforts. The kids are into the band, too. Sometimes they put their fingers in their ears if it’s too loud,” he said laughing hard. “It’s just been amazing to see how far we’ve come from where we were,” he added.

Now, kids just might be down in front at a McGees show, singing along with Withrow and Dittebrand and the rest of the guys.

“There was actually this kid at one show, his mom and dad had brought him, and they loved it,” Withrow said, recalling maybe his favorite moment of the tour.

“So, they got a new dog, and they named the dog McGee.”

The Tom McGees w/Farnsworth, Mad Anthony
WHEN: 10 p.m., Friday, Dec. 21
WHERE: The V Club, 741 6th Ave. (304) 781-0680 COST: $5
INFO: www.vclublive.com


Q&A w/WMUL's Anastasia Artayet & Brittany Barnes for Cutting Edge Fest


WMUL’s Anastasia Artayet (left) and Brittany Barnes (right) get pumped for tonight’s second annual WMUL Cutting Edge Fest at The V Club in Huntington. They’ll be joined by Deadbeats & Barkers, Coyotes in Boxes, Blue Ring, and mycity.. That’s not an unfinished ellipsis, they have a period at the end of the name, and we decided to end our sentence there.

A silent art auction, with work from MU alum Keelan Shepherd and faculty member Ian Hagarty will be held, with proceeds going to Little Victories no-kill shelter, of which we are a fan, so throw a buncha money at that. Cover charge/donations go to Cabell-Huntington-Wayne animal shelter. AND, you can adopt an animal friend on site tonight!

Deadbeats & Barkers frontman James Barker said that The V Club helping the shelters is awesome, and he and the other musicians performing are here to help.

“The Guthrie’s have always been good about jumping on board something like this when they can see enough local interest,” Barker said. “Local musicians and artists are happy to donate time or work to something like this -- even in a time where they are asked to work for free on almost a daily basis.

“This cause is personal for me seeing as I am an owner of two dogs from the shelter and have always been an advocate of people adopting from shelters.”

We caught up with Artayet and Barnes to learn more about the fest...

WVRockscene: This is the second annual WMUL Cutting Edge Fest right? Were you involved with last year’s show? How did that go and is this one going to be bigger/better this time around?

Brittany Barnes: Yes, this is the second Cutting Edge Fest, and I was involved with it last year as well. It was started by the music director at the time, Jessi Sisson. We created it with hopes of getting our name out to people in the community. We have a wonderful asset for anyone that loves or plays music. You don’t have to be a student to DJ and you get to decide who and what to play. We encourage all music, especially music straight from W.Va.

Last year we wanted to incorporate that and give students something fun to do during dead week, right before finals and the end of semester. The first Cutting Edge Fest in 2011 went phenomenally well. We kept it simple; six bands played at Shamrocks (RIP) and attendance was over 150. This year we are having five bands, a silent art auction, pet adoption, and we’re giving the proceeds to two animal shelters.

Anastasia Artayet: I was involved with the Spring 2012 Cutting Edge Fest at Shoop’s with Sasha Colette, Coyotes in Boxes, and Sly Roosevelt -- this Fall 2012 show is definitely going to be bigger than the Spring 2012 Festival. We have Deadbeats and Barkers, Coyotes in Boxes, Blue Ring, mycity., and Jordan Andrew Jefferson playing this year, as well as a silent art auction featuring Keelan Shepherd and Ian Hagarty. (ed. note: JAJ pulled out due to illness)

What’s really exciting is that the shindig is benefiting the Huntington-Cabell-Wayne Animal Shelter and Little Victories; you can even adopt on-site at our event starting at 8:45pm!

rockscene: For those unfamiliar with who you are how far along are you two at Marshall? So.? Jr.? Major?

Barnes: I am a super senior (3rd semester) Radio/TV production and management major at MU. I’ve worked at WMUL previously as a DJ and Training Coordinator, and I was involved with Up Late, Marshall’s late night talk show.

Artayet: I am a rising Senior Spanish major in the College of Liberal Arts. I am the founding member of Sound Exchange Society and the WMUL DJ that covers local music. This is my third semester working with the station.

rockscene: And Anastasia you’re involved with covering area bands with Sound Exchange right? I’d seen Ian Thornton mentioning you on Facebook, telling bands to holler at you to play their music. What do you do with Sound Exchange and what is the relative importance from your perspective like you say on the Facebook page, about putting MU students in touch with these area bands? Who are some of your fave area acts?

Artayet: Sound Exchange Society was an idea that began back in 2010 that hasn’t fully blossomed yet; as of right now, I’m the only member of the society! haha I plan to put the plans in effect starting December 20th in order to get the society up and running for my senior year -- I think it is detrimental for Marshall Student Artists and Musicians, as well as Huntington Artists and Musicians, to have an outlet and established circle of communication to get their work and inspiration viewed by the community. With the art walks every first Thursday in Huntington and the Old Main Corridor project, as well as the numerous local venues for live music, I believe we can make Sound Exchange Society a legacy for getting students involved with our neighbors and bring our neighbors to campus, too. How stellar would it be to have live bands and an art walk overspill from 4th Avenue to Buskirk Field and the Memorial Student Center Plaza? We have the inspiration - let’s make it happen!

The closest I have gotten to this (so far) is the Fall Festival I hosted with Housing and Residence Life’s Commons Hall Council in the Fall 2011, where we had the bands set up in the Ed Grose room of Harless Cafeteria - with local donations from area businesses and the support of campus officials, over 200 students attended! Mind you, this was planned by a friend, Katie Cundiff, and I in a mere 72 hours - imagine what could be done for the area with the right network and amount of planning! As far as local acts, I have profound respect for Sly Roosevelt and AC30; Sly Roosevelt is the reason I joined the scene and AC30’s Ian Thornton is my “pusher” and go-to-guy when the bands are dubious about my intentions, and I seriously love listening to their music when I need a break from the daily grind.

rockscene: What were some of your first awesome experiences seeing a band at say the V Club or just your first experiences being immersed covering local bands?

Barnes: I’m from Hurricane, about 30-40 minutes from downtown Huntington. I used to go to shows at HYAMP before they closed, and that really influenced my interest in local music. Honestly, I can’t remember my first time seeing a band at the V Club, (which may not say much for my moral fiber) but I’ve been quite a few times since. They have done a killer job bringing music to the area.

Artayet: Coming from Moorefield to Huntington (almost 300 miles North-East of Huntington) was mind-blowing musically, to say the least -- seriously, growing up I knew the mainstream crap they played on the airwaves hundreds of miles away, like Backstreet Boys and N-Sync, etc. My first concert was O-Town (I didn't get out much as a child). We didn’t have media outlets where I grew up (other than country stations). I didn't discover The Black Keys, Apples in Stereo, Wilco, and such until I met Sly Roosevelt. Can you imagine!?


So when I first went to the V Club and started networking with local bands, it was like a kid in the candy store; I wanted to attend all the events! It’s so hard to pick and choose what I attend due to my schedule. When I started to DJ with my friend Jerry Smith in the mornings from 6 to 9 in the Fall of 2011, I realized how much I really missed the music scene. My wake-up call was when I was searching through the server for music to play, and I discovered there wasn't a lot of local music on the server and I knew it was meant to be. So in the Spring of 2012, I started contacting people and gathering what I could for the station, and it's been a never-ending beautiful process.

rockscene: Whose idea was it to have Cutting Edge Fest benefit these area shelters?

Artayet: Lauren Ware of the V-Club and Black Sheep Burritos and Brews gave us the idea to make the festival a benefit for the shelters; WMUL approached the V-Club for the festival location and they asked if we wanted to team up for the shelter and we didn't have a doubt about saying yes. The animal shelters need this so badly! If our community would come together for not only this event, but the shelters in future support, we could save the health and lives of our fuzzy friends.

I’m going to get on my Bob Barker soapbox here and remind people to spay and neuter their pets.

rockscene: Just talking with the band members and people at the V Club and people in general, what has the response been like to the show and its charitable function helping animals?

Barnes: The response has been extremely positive. My parents even said they want to come, haha.

Artayet: Everyone is SO excited about this event; there isn’t words to properly describe the response we have gotten; if you really want to know, you are going to have to come experience it yourself!

The Perfect Chaos by Keelan Shepherd
----- rockscene: You’re also involved with showcasing art at the show Saturday, having a silent auction? How is that coming along?

Artayet: We are indeed having an art auction; as my first auction that I’m hosting, we are keeping it quaint for this round -- Keelan Shepherd and Ian Hagarty are confirmed, and ALL other artists are invited to show up the day of!

They can contact me at artayet@live.marshall.edu for more information about the event.

rockscene: Any plans for WMUL or Sound Exchange to be involved in the community like this next year or just plans to do stuff like this in the future?

Barnes: Absolutely. We had a show last spring Anastasia was also involved in, and we want to continue with this. Even though I won’t be the director, I expect you will see a show this spring and 3rd Annual Cutting Edge Fest in December 2013.

Artayet: Sound Exchange Society is planning a much larger event for campus and the community -- I may even begin monthly shows. I recommend following our page on Facebook to stay in the know about upcoming shenanigans, partnerships, shows, and joining the Society to make the connection between campus and the community a reality. I need all the inspiration and manpower people can muster.

rockscene: So many people love their pets, how cool is it to be able to involve WMUL with these bands for such a great cause?

Barnes: It has been really great. Everyone that’s been involved with planning this show has been incredible. I cannot wait to hear great music, see the local art, and of course adorable animals. What can be better than that?

Artayet: This has been an amazing opportunity and we look forward to doing more benefits like this with the community in the near future!

--- The V Club will accept these donated items in lieu of the $10 cover charge:

*dog food
*cat litter
*laundry detergent
*dog leashes
*dog collars

Cover charge and donations will go towards the C-H-W Animal Shelter and money raised from the art auction will go to Little Victories. Please support this most noble cause. Thanks all around to Lauren Ware/The V Club, WMUL (Artayet & Barnes specifically) and the bands performing and the people who care!


Justin Johnson continues Embracing The Eyesore

Longtime readers and/or browsers of WVRockscene will of course remember fondly Justin Johnson's 1318 4th Ave. series from a few years ago. Focusing on the 90's Gumby's/Drop Shop days and the bands that came through, Johnson diligently documented those days, a delight for anyone who was there at some point.

Well, Justin just launched his own blog dedicated to "Embracing The Eyesore" and it's definitely something you should get keen to.

Johnson has been catching readers up on the beginning of Gumby's in 1990 and the bands and has been tying things up catching people up on Chum members John Lancaster and Chris Tackett. It was so great to have him doing "1318" for rockscene and we're stoked to see him kick this thing off.

It's even more fitting that Johnson does this now: Herald-Dispatch reporter and friend of those days Bryan Chambers tweeted recently he's working on a story for this weekend about a construction project that will see the building demolished. (correction: 'twas another eyesore Chambers meant! whew! confirm information!)

VIDEO: J Marinelli “Telephone Teeth” (via Shaker Steps)

The holidays got a little more awesome recently. The Lexington-based video production cats calling themselves Shaker Steps caught up with Morgantown native and WVRockscene hero J Marinelli for a few candid, we understand cold, acoustic renditions of some of our fave songs.

Check out “Telephone Teeth” here, which we obviously stole from the Shaker Steps people to share, and check out Marinelli’s version of “Pomade Years” on the Shaker Steps YouTube page. Kudos to Shaker Steps!

And in other exciting Marinelli news, he’s just re-released Keep It Fake, maybe our favorite record of his (it’s close with PSS) AND, he was interviewed extensively by American Gloam. Marinelli questions you think you’d never get a chance to ask him are in there!